Provence's artists, on the trail of painters and filmmakers
Culture - Not to be missed
Provence is a place where art comes to life. Its landscapes and light inspired Paul Cézanne in Aix-en-Provence, Van Gogh in Arles and Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, the Lumière brothers in La Ciotat and Pagnol in Aubagne. From Cézanne's studio to the Bibemus Quarries that were so inspiring, visit sites on which the painters left an indelible impression. Van Gogh painted almost 300 works in 15 months, his most prolific period, in Arles! From museums to iconic landscapes, this 4-day tour promises a journey of Provence through film and the fine arts.
Day 1 – Aix-en-Provence on the trail of Cézanne
Start your tour by following the waymarked trail retracing the life of this native of Aix. You'll visit his studio and the Granet Museum, home to ten of his masterpieces. Then, from the Bibemus Quarries, admire the views over Sainte-Victoire, the mountain that so inspired him. After a gourmet lunch at a 'Tables 13' restaurant, continue your artistic tour of Aix at the Centre d'Art Caumont and the Fondation Vasarely. A fan of contemporary art? Then head to Gallifet Art Center and check out canvases by promising new talents.
Day 2 – Arles, Van Gogh's landscapes
Day 2 is spent in Arles where you'll follow the Van Gogh trail to (re)discover the places immortalised by the artist, such as the Quai du Rhône in The Starry Night and Pont de Langlois. Next make a detour to the Fondation Van Gogh where his contemporaries pay homage. After having a coffee at a terrace on Place du Forum, choose from a relaxed bistro or Michelin-starred restaurant for lunch. History buffs will love strolling along the roads of the Alyscamps or visiting Montmajour Abbey which the painter also immortalised.
Day 3 – St-Rémy, homage to Van Gogh
Day 3 is also dedicated to the Dutch painter, but takes you to Saint-Rémy. Begin with the guided tour 'In the steps of Van Gogh' then head to Saint-Paul-de-Mausole Monastery. This former clinic, which treated the painter in 1889-1890, features a reconstruction of his room and the Valetudo art gallery. At the Musée Estrine, visit the Van Gogh Interpretation Centre and learn more about the artist's life.
Day 4 – La Ciotat, the cradle of cinema
Begin day 4 with a stroll along the 'Grande Plage' beach. Head to the port to see the world's oldest cinema, the Eden Théâtre, before touring the town's museum. Peckish? Grab lunch at the port. In the afternoon, sail over to the Ile Verte and explore its colourful landscapes. On the way back, stop at Parc du Mugel before hitting the shops in the town centre. Watching the sun set from the beach at Figuerolles Cove makes a fitting end to such a beautiful day!
Day 5 – Aubagne, in Pagnol country
Spend your last day taking your time to see Aubagne. For instance, Marcel Pagnol's childhood home is open to the public. And visit places where the famous author and director spent his youth and set his greatest films on a guided tour in the Garlaban hills or in summer with the 'From Aubagne to La Treille' tour. And when the silver screen meets the world of miniatures, you have 'The Little World of Marcel Pagnol'. At this unique museum, relive iconic scenes from his films including the Triologie Marseillaise, Jean de Florette and Manon des Sources. Children will love it!
- Visit Arles and its 100 monuments classed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
- Venture out to Baux near Saint-Rémy to visit the Carrières de Lumière where you can see multimedia shows inspired by the greatest artists in history (Michelangelo, Klimt, Chagall and others)
- Mixing up art by the great masters with contemporary works and street art
- Soaking up the Provence scenery through the eyes of the masters
The best time to visit
- In March for Aubagne's international film festival
- In April to take part in Aix-en-Provence's Easter festival
- In May for the Printemps de l'Art Contemporain exhibition in Marseille
- In September for the Feria du Riz festival in Arles
Culture, Not to be missed
By public transport, Personal vehicle
Aix en Provence, Arles, Saint Rémy de Provence, Aubagne, La Ciotat
All year round
Discover other itineraries
Between sea and lakes, a leisurely tour of the Côte Bleue
Explore the typical towns and villages along the 'Blue Coast' amidst lakes and the Mediterranean Sea at your own pace. First Istres with its beaches bordering the biggest inland sea in Europe. Then Martigues with its pretty canals, bridges and quays which have inspired painters for hundreds of years. And lastly Carry-le-Rouet, the pearl of the Côte Bleue, its coastline awash with creeks, beaches and hillside capes.
The leading lights in architecture
For your architecture-themed day, this tour will show you buildings and works designed by leading lights including Jean Nouvel, Franck Gehry, Rudy Ricciotti, Stefano Boeri, Le Corbusier, Kengo Kuma, Pouillon, Vasarely, Tadao Endo and others. It will take you to the MuCEM and its amazing footbridge before you get to visit the Villa Méditerranée that is half suspended over the Mediterranean Sea. When lunchtime arrives, we suggest you head to Le Ventre de l’Architecte (literally 'the architect's belly'!) in the Cité Radieuse designed by the great Le Corbusier. The FRAC and its fascinating façade is the next stop on the tour. The Regards de Provence Museum is an example of a very successful restoration while the luminescent modular components which make up the Fondation Vasarely are simply mesmerising. Lastly, conclude your tour at Château La Coste, where architecture meets wine.
A gastronomic Tour of Berre Lagoon
This tour is focused around Berre lagoon, the second-largest salt water lake in Europe. Located west of Marseille, it's a fantastic spot for checking out local producers and tasting what the land has to offer. From organic wines to artisanal ice creams, all the products are made in Provence. There is plenty to pack in so we suggest you pick your favourites from our gourmet suggestions or extend your stay to stagger the visits over two days.
Drawing its inspiration from the city's sulphurous reputation since the early 20th century, this literary movement is a spinoff from the 'Roman Noir' crime novel
Art de Vivre
The 'Calanques' – Genuine little corners of paradise!
This sport (yes, Pétanque is a sport, but we'll talk about that later) is an intrinsic part of life in Marseille and has been from generation to generation!
Every quarter has its own boules court and/or boules association, including, of course, a watering hole...